Transition Blog Archives

Welcome to the 2014-2015 school year at the Howard T. Ennis School.  We have now completed the first full month of school and it is the first few days in October.  When school begins it just never seems to be enough time to complete everything that needs to be done.  September witnessed a flurry of IEP meetings, but, as the second full month of school begins things seemed to have calmed down a bit and there seems to be more opportunities to get caught up on tasks that have been neglected. 

 

It is my hope to provide to the readers of this blog, useful and relevant information concerning the transition students make from school to the world beyond.  I plan to discuss in more detail transition planning in relation to IEP requirements, adult service provider agency selection, and a host of other topics over the course of the school year.  If you have suggestions for a specific topic, please post a message.

 

I anticipate a productive and successful year.

 

Posted by T. Bush on Oct 7, 14 0 comments View


A frequently listed activity found in the transition plans that we develop at Howard T. Ennis is for students to obtain an offical State of Delaware Identification card.  These cards are available at the Department of Motor Vehicles and become useful sources of identification for students.  Most of us, on a reglar basis, rely on using our state issued driver's license to prove our identity.  In fact, if we use a check to purchase an item, a credit card for the same purpose, if we are getting information at a governmental agency, picking up a package at the post office, if we are asked by the police to prove our identity we use our drivers licenses.  However, many of our students will not have the ability to operate a motor vehicle and in turn obtain a drivers license.  They require a method to officially prove their identity that is easy to produce from a wallet or purse when needed.  The offical Identification cards fulfill this purpose.

 

As mentioned the cards are obtained at Department of Motor Vehicles offices located in each of the three counties in Delaware.  The DMV provides a checklist that lists the documentation required to obtain the identification card (a note of interest, the docmentation requirements are the same as if the goal is to obtain a drivers license).  Identification cards can be issued at any age.  If the applicant is under age 18 a parent, legal guardian or court-appointed custodian all presenting valid identification must accompany the applicant.  The cost for an identification card is $20.00 and it is good for 4 years.  The cards are renewed in the same fashion as a drivers license.  The identification cards have the same appearance as a drivers license (same size, lamination, official seals etc.) but they are oriented differently (drivers licenses are oriented in landscape view - like a credit card, but identification cards are turned 90 degrees and are presented in portrait view).  The identification card has the individual's photograph on it and also other identifying information (date of birth, address etc.).

 

Appointments for obtaining identification cards are not needed.  Applicants show up at the DMV offices during business hours and are assisted in turn just as all other business is completed at the DMV.

 

Additional information concerning identification cards can be found at the DMV website using the following address:  www.secureid.dmv.de.gov, or by making a toll free telephone call by dialing (877) 477-7117

 

If you click on the following link you can view the DMV Identfication Card's Checklist.

 

 

Posted by T. Bush on May 6, 14 0 comments View


As we begin preparing student for a life beyond school it is important that a systematic and planned approach is taken.  This is such an important step in students' lives and to proceed in a haphazard manner doesn't serve students or families effectively.

 

There are really four key areas that we consider in helping students through the transition process.  Three of them are specified explicitly on the IEP.  They are "Employment", "Postsecondary Education and Training" and "Independent Living".  The fourth area is Self-Determination and while it is not afforded direct and explicit notation on the IEP it is an important focus that is a component of all of our planning and preparation.

 

There are key questions to consider in each area.  Helping students to consider these questions and to develop answers and responses based upon their interests, desires, appitutdes and goals is a major part of transition planning.

 

Some of these key questions are obvious and others may be less so.  So, lets take a look at each area.

 

Questions to Consider

 

Employment

 

  • What are your career goals?
  • How will you reach those goals?
  • What supports and/or resources do you need to reach your vocational goals?

 

Postsecondary Education & Training

 

  • What postsecondary education/training options are available to you?
  • What documentation do you need to be eligible for disability related services?
  • What types of accommodations can you receive from postsecondary education/training programs?

 

Independent Living

 

  • Where do you want to live as an adult?
  • What kind of support will you need for transportation, medical issues, daily living and leisure time activities and how will you pay for what you need?
  • How will you maintain and increase your social network?

 

. . . and finally - Self-Determination

 

  • How do you make decisions and use community resources?
  • How do you talk about your disability and what you need for support?
  • What are your goals and what is your plan to reach them?

 

Depending on a student's age there are specific suggestion of steps and activities to be completed to help students develop and refine their answers to each of the questions presented above.

 

Transition Coordinators and Specialists keep these key questions in mind as they work to develop plans for students, but parents/teachers can also keep these questions at the forefront in their work with their children/students.

 

We all want to help our students to develop the best possible plan for their future.  Life is difficult and even more so for students and families dealing with a disability.  Working andplanning together is the key to helping every student prepare for their adult life.

 

Posted by T. Bush on Apr 3, 14 0 comments View


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Employment is a goal for nearly every student we service at Howard T. Ennis.  Our program has a focus on developing work skills and job behaviors by having students participate in structured in-school and community based work experiences.  The students receive support from on-staff job coaches. 

 

In addition to our structured work experiences, the Early Start to Supported Employment (ESSE) is another program students can benefit from.

 

The ESSE program provides initial and on-going support as dictated by student need in an integrated community work environment.  This employment is paid employment and ESSE students receive a paycheck just as their co-workers do.  This program is provided through the cooperation, support and assistance of the Delaware Department of Education, the Division of Developmental Disability Services (DDDS), the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), families and many adult service providers.  The goal is to provide students, prior to their inevitable exit from school, with a seamless transition to meaningful, real world work experience.  This will help to ensure their continuing employment success.

 

The selection of an adult service provider is important.  This adult service provider will be conduit through which ESSE services will be provided.  Those adult service providers who offer a full array of supported employment services provide the most success to student transitioning from school into employment.  These supported employment services include;

 

  • Individual Supported Employment

 

  • Integrated Community Work (business) Setting

 

  • Job Coaching

 

  • Job Development

 

  • Natural Supports

 

  • Follow-Along Services

 

  • Fading

 

Possible service providers who participate in the ESSE program are discussed with students and their families, and they are assisted in selecting an appropriate provider.

 

To participate in the program students have to meet some eligibility requirements.  These are:

 

  1. the student is eligible for DVR and DDDS
  2. the student is within 2 years from their final year of school, and he/she is interested in working and capable of working with supports
  3. the student and family is motivated to include work as a main post-school goal
  4. the student understands that the focus will be on work activities - any extracurricular activities, vacations, etc., may need to be adjusted
  5. the student displays good work habits, which may include previous successful school related jobs and community based work experiences

 

For more information concerning ESSE contact your school's Transition Specialist or your Family Support Specialist.

 

New Castle County

(302) 836-2100

 

Kent County

(302) 744-1110

 

Sussex County

(302) 933-3100

 

Day/Transition Team DDDS

New Castle County

2540 Wrangle Hill Road

Bear, DE  19701

Katie Howe

(302) 836-2185

Mary Carol Beard

(302) 836-2194

 

Day/Transition Team DDDS

Kent/Sussex County

26351 Patriots Way

Georgetown, DE  19947

Sharon Ralph

(302) 933-3152

Shelley Neall

(302) 741-9353 

 

  

 

Posted by T. Bush on Feb 21, 14 0 comments View

"My child is going to be 18 years old soon.  What should I know to prepare for this?"

  

I'm prefacing the information I share in this blog entry by stating that as an educator, I am not able or qualified to offer any legal advice. If you have specific legal questions please contact a licensed attorney.  You can also feel free to contact any of the resources I have listed at the end of this entry with legal (or other) questions.

 

Much of the information I share below comes from a session presented at the Life Conference held in Dover, Delaware on January 16, 2014.  The session was entitled "Guardianship of adults, Alternatives, Advance Healthcare Directives, and MOLST" delivered by the Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. and The Office of the Public Guardian.  I have borrowed extensively from the PowerPoint presentation provided at the session. 

 

In the State of Delaware all individuals have reached the "age of majority" and become their own legal guardian on their 18th birthday.  The state makes no distinctions based upon a person's circumstances or extent of disability.  What this means is that when a child turns 18 the parents of the child will, technically, not be able to access information (medical records, school records etc.) or make any medical or financial decisions for their child.  Unless parents take steps to retain guardianship or establish a legal mechanism to maintain some control they will lose the decision making abilities and general authority they had exercised to this point in their child's life.

 

In the IEP process we follow in school, we are to take note of the age of majority and to make sure parents understand what will happen when their child reaches this milestone.  The goal is to prevent parents from being suddenly shocked by the legal change in their status and to allow parents to prepare for this change.

 

In the State of Delaware, adult guardianships are filed in the Court of Chancery.  The Court of Chancery has offices in all three Delaware Counties (New Castle, Kent and Sussex).  Taking the steps to obtain guardianship over an adult should be a last resort and should only be considered when other alternatives to guardianship have failed or are no longer appropriate.

 

Alternatives to guardianship include establishing a representative payee, case/care management systems, trusts, establishing a joint checking account, establishing a durable power of attorney, establishing an advanced health care directive or establishing a health care surrogacy.  Whether any of these options meet the needs of you and your child, or if obtaining guardianship is more appropriate, is something you will have to determine.

 

So what are guardianships anyway?  Guardianships can provide extra protection for an alleged disabled person since they require the Court to review evidence before they are approved and the Court continues to monitor them until they are terminated.  Potential guardians may find it easier to speak to medical providers, apply for public benefits and handle financial matters on behalf of the alleged disabled person once they are appointed guardian by the court.

 

As mentioned earlier, in the state of Delaware, the Court of Chancery has the authority (12 Del. C. Ch. 39) to appoint a guardian of the person and/or property of a disabled person if as a result of their disability the alleged disabled person may be in danger of being taken advantage of, suffering property loss, being abused/neglected or substantially endangering their own health.

 

"Disabled person" means an individual 18 years of age or older who is unable to care for their person and/or property by reason of physical and/or mental impairment.  A "guardian" is a person, or persons (co-guardians), appointed by the Court to make medical and/or financial decisions for a disabled person.  The Court, upon request or petition, can appoint different types of guardians.  Guardians do not have to be permanent or plenary.  Based upon the evidence presented to the Court in the petition for guardianship and the Attorney ad Litem report, the Court may appoint an interim/emergency guardian, a temporary guardian (rare), a limited guardian (with only selected powers under 12 Del.C. 3921 et seq.), or a plenary guardian (with all powers).

 

The Office of the Public Guardian may be appointed to serve as someone's guardian if no alternatives to guardianship are available and if there is no other individual willing or able to serve.

 

Depending on the circumstances an individual could be appointed as the Guardian of the Person, the Guardian of the Property or as both types of guardian.  The guardian of the person has the authority to make decisions about the personal and medical care of the disabled person.  This could include deciding where the disabled person will reside, resolving medical issues and providing consent for medical treatment(s) as needed, advocating on behalf of the disabled person, attending care planning meetings, if applicable and making medical and dental appointments.  The guardian of the property is able to make decisions about the financial welfare of the disabled person.  These financial decisions could involve handling the disabled person's bank accounts, investments, personal property and real estate, applying for social security benefits for the disabled person, filing taxes on behalf of the disabled person if applicable, and filing an inventory 30 days after the guardian appointment and yearly accountings with the Court if applicable.

 

All guardians must file an Annual Update and Medical Statement (AUMS) with the Court each year.  The AUMS reports the current geographical information of the guardian and the person subject to guardianship as well as includes a physician's affidavit noting the necessity (or not) of continuing the guardianship.

 

The Court actively monitors and provides oversight to guardianships.  There are instances when a guardian must file a petition with the court and receive prior approval before making certain decisions or taking certain actions.  It is always important to contact the Court and speak with staff in the Register in Chancery if you have questions regarding your authority as a guardian.

 

A lot of basic information was presented above and to be honest it only scratches the surface.  You may need some resources as you investigate these issues.  I've listed some below.

 

Delaware CarePlan Inc. (302) 633-4000

  • Administers trust funds and provides care planning for individuals with disabilities
  • Advice and counsel to guardians

 

Private organizations

  • Senior Partner, Inc.  (302) 764-7880
  • Life Solutions, Inc  (302) 622-8292

 

Government agencies

  • Register in Chancery  (302) 255-0544
  • Delaware Money Management Program  (800) 223-9074
  • Office of the Public Guardian  (302) 674-7460

 

Private Attorneys

 

Disabilities Law Program

  • New Castle County  (302) 575-0660
  • Kent County  (302) 674-8500
  • Sussex County  (302) 856-0038

 

Posted by T. Bush on Jan 24, 14 0 comments View


What is DDDS and Why is it Important to Register?

 

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services provides support and assistance to the citizens of the state in various ways.  There are divisions of the department that address the needs of specific groups of people.  The division that we deal with most at the Howard T. Ennis School is DDDS.

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DDDS provides life-long support and services for registered, eligible clients who have developmental or intellectual disabilities.  The agency provides employment services, family support services, day habilitation and transition services, residential services, and respite services.

 

The "life-long" aspect is important to emphasize.  Parents and Guardians generally have every good intention to take care of, and plan for the future of their disabled children, but every contingency cannot be anticipated or planned for.  Life is unpredictable and in spite of careful planning and preparation things occur that impact and change what we desire and hope for.  It is also true that, in the normal progression of life, parents and guardians generally do not out-live their disabled children.  DDDS will provide support and services to clients for their entire lives.

 

Some parents/guardians may view that involvement of DDDS in their lives and in the lives of their disabled children as intrusive or with suspicion.  Parents/guardians may also take offense when the subject of DDDS is broached.  They may feel that the suggestion that they may need help in the future is insulting and questioning their sense of responsibility.

 

We try to explain that their extent and involvement with DDDS is flexible. The agency can take a completely consultative role and provide minimal or even no services, or they can be more active and take a direct role in support and services.  The important thing is that they will be there and will assist and support clients as their needs dictate.

 

Nothing can happen until an application is completed and submitted.  Generally, we provide parents with DDDS applications when transition planning begins when students turn 14 years of age.  The application is rather lengthly and we help parents/guardians in the completion and submission of these applications.  The application is reviewed and eligibility is determined.  When a student/client is approved a DDDS caseworker is assigned.  During a student's school years DDDS's involvement is limited, but they are available and able to assist when called upon.  As a student moves closer to graduation the involvement of DDDS increases.

 

In the "Contents Menu" under the "Forms and Applications" tab you will find a PDF of the DDDS application.  This application can be printed, filled in and submitted for services.  There is also a link to DDDS provided under the "Governmental Agencies, Advocacy Groups and Adult Service Providers" tab.

 

If you have any questions about DDDS post your question on this blog or contact the school.  We will be very happy to assist you. 

 

Posted by T. Bush on Jan 2, 14 0 comments View

I am a special education teacher in southern Delaware.  I work in a special school servicing students between the ages of 3 and 21 with cognitive and developmental disabilitie. At the beginning of the current school year I entered a new position as the Transition Specialist.  Helping students prepare for, or transition into their adult lives after they exit school is very important.  We want to make this happen as smoothly as possible and we want to prepare the students and their families for this major change in their lives. In Delaware, transition planning for students begins at age 14.  In the student's IEP specific transition goals and activities are documented.

I have been learning a great deal since the beginning of the school year.  For the last 24 years I have been a classroom teacher.  I have always worked with small groups of special needs students in self-contained classrooms in public schools.  My experience has included working with students with orthopedic impairments and as I mentioned above students with cognitive and developmental disabilities.  Over the years, the students have ranged from having moderate to severe disabilities and specific categories have included students with Down Syndrome, learning disabilities, deafblindness, cerebral palsy, and social and emotional disabilities.

Now, as the Transition Specialist in my school I am responsible for the transition planning of all students between the ages of 14 and 21.  As a result my current caseload includes 56 students.  The transition services I provide includes the assessment of vocational, independent living and education and training skills.  I also help students and their families select appropriate adult service providers and establish relationships with governmental agencies.  (Delaware's Human Services agency is the Department of the Health and Social Services, or DHSS, and within this agency are various divisions that focus on specific areas.  The division I deal with mostly is DDDS - the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services.  I help students and families complete and submit applications to DDDS.)  In addition I organize and supervise in-school and community based work programs and each day I teach one class focusing on work skills in a different classroom.

I hope to use this blog to disseminate information about a range of topics dealing with the transition from school to adult life.  Many parents and caregivers are confused about all of this and there are a variety of topics that can be discussed.  "How do I select an appropriate adult service provider?"  "How do I secure public transportation services?"  "What does 'age of majority' mean and how can I maintain legal guardianship of my child after they turn 18?"  All of these questions and more can be and will be address here.  So, make a point to check in periodically and I will do my best to share what information I can to help take the confusion and trepidation out of the transition process.

 

Posted by T. Bush on Dec 20, 13 0 comments View